The KSU high energy physics group enjoyed another busy and productive 12 months in the World Year of Physics. Several of our group’s notable accomplishments are described elsewhere in this newsletter, so I will mostly give an update of activities of our people and give some web links to learn more about our work.
On the research front, K-State’s D-Zero experiment (see http://www-d0.fnal.gov/) at Fermilab passed the one inverse femto-barn mark in integrated luminosity. A fantastic program of study continues on top quark physics, CP violation, electroweak gauge bosons, and searches for signs in the property of the Fermilab Tevatron’s most violent collisions of the new physics that governs Nature at the TeV energy scale. Some of the exotic possibilities include “supersymmetry,” the idea that all spin ½ particles have spin 0 partners, and, to really stretch your mind, that the four dimensional world we see is really just a local patch of the true eleven dimensions of space and time that make up the Universe.
New assistant professor Yurii Marvin has created a dynamic group with Post-doc Dima Bandurin and graduates student Alexei Ferapontov and Keti Kaadze that specializes in studying collisions with high energy photons. Graduate students Mansoora Shamim and Mahsana Ahsan are making great progress in completing their theses with Tim Bolton. Post-doc Kristian Harder completed an outstanding year managing a crucial detector sub-system of D-Zero called the silicon microstrip tracker and is switching his efforts into studies of the production properties of top quarks. KSU has also finished its part of an important instrumentation improvement of the silicon tracker called “the layer zero upgrade.” This involved design and production of custom electronics in collaboration with KSU Electronics Design Lab engineer Russell Taylor. Post-doc Dima Onoprienko wrote major sections of the crucial control software for this new project.
In two short years, Fermilab will cede its title of world’s highest energy accelerator to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located at the European particle physics lab CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. K-State is deeply involved in building one of the experiments to run at the LHC called CMS (see http://cmsinfo.cern.ch/Welcome.html/). As usual we specialize in silicon charged particle detectors, in this case the forward pixel system. Bolton and Taylor will spend the next six months checking out hundreds of specialized circuits for the forward pixels in the KSU high bay lab; and Onoprienko and Bolton have implemented a complex software simulation package that is needed to optimize the use of the detector. Maravin and Bandurin are working with Fermilab colleagues to set up an operations center in Illinois that will allow US physicists to operate the CMS experiment completely by remote control from Illinois, or even from desktop computers in Manhattan!
Meanwhile, Glenn Horton-Smith, Noel Stanton, and Bolton are leading KSU’s program in neutrino oscillation physics, the topic of which is nicely described elsewhere in this newsletter. Post-doc Alfred Tang and graduate students Mark Smith and Jasmine Foster are working with this team on the KAMLAND (see http://www.awa.tohoku.ac.jp/html/KamLAND/), Double-Chooz (see http://doublechooz.in2p3.fr/), and Braidwood (see http://braidwood.uchicago.edu/) experiments located in Japan, France, and Illinois, respectively! Mark and Jasmine are also involved with “table-top” projects that will provide important data for the larger experiments. Jasmine is building a liquid scintillator test module that she will expose to a low energy proton beam with the help of our friends in the Macdonald Lab; and Mark is building a specialized detector for rare cosmic ray interactions that will operate in an undergraduate enclosure. You could help Mark out a lot in fact if you happen to know where a nearby room is that sits about 50 feet underground and hopefully has some heat and lights!
While Eckard von Toerne is enjoying a long-term leave in Bonn, Germany supported by his Sofja Kovaleskaja Prize of last year, he is still managing to keep his hand in KSU-HEP. He and the resourceful Onoprienko have completed a highly regarded set of studies on charged particle tracking in yet another future accelerator project, this time the International Linear Collider (see http://www.linearcollider.org/cms/), a proposed futuristic complex of 30 kilometer long linear accelerators that will shoot high energy beams of electron and positrons at each other.
As with other groups in the physics department, we continue to enjoy working with fantastic KSU undergraduates. Our crew this year included our accounting intern, Aubrie Koester, and undergraduate researchers Jon Kalodimos, Wesley Cameron, Dan Wright, Arthur Thompson, Tom Vehlewald, and Dave Thompson. We are delighted that Dave received a Goldwater scholarship in part for his work with our group.
We also remain proud of our HEP outreach activities (see http://www.phys.ksu.edu/hep/). Our 22-teacher Quarknet project continues under the able guidance of lead-teachers Fred Nelson and Laurie Cleavinger of Manhattan and McLouth High Schools, respectively, and with the continuing collaboration of Sanjay Rebello and the KSU PERG. And we continued to take a lead in the scientific literacy projects at the KSU Center for Understanding of Origins (see http://www.phys.ksu.edu/origins/), with program assistant Nidhi Mungali making critical contributions to all facets of Center activities.
I’ll close with some more news about people. As mentioned elsewhere, Glenn Hortom-Smith received a DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator Award this past summer. This is KSU-HEP’s third since 1996, which ties us with Boston University for the most awards given for experimental physics to one institution over the past ten years. Our former post-doc Flera Rizatdinova started an assistant professor position at Oklahoma State this past fall; she joins Todd Adams as K-State HEP folks who have moved onto faculty ranks. Mark Smith received a DOE award to attend the 55th annual Nobel Laureate’s symposium in Lindau, Germany. Kristian Harder and his wife Katrin are enjoying their baby daughter Ana. Ron Sidwell ended a brilliant 35 year career as one of the field’s foremost experts on silicon tracking detectors and is now enjoying life as an independent consultant with his wife Robin on Washington’s Olympic peninsula. A highlight of Ron’s retirement dinner was a visit from Bill Reay, who seems suspiciously busy for a twice-retired professor up in Columbus, Ohio. Bill is flying again too with a new airplane (see http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~reay/). Our research administrator Pamela Schremmer is now Pamela Anderson after her beautiful October wedding in Paxico. Finally, to close on some great news, some of you may be aware of former student Drew Alton and his wife Julie’s very early birth last year of a new son. I’m glad to say that Chance is thriving these days with big sister Kaylyn.